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The Open 2018: Molinari triumphs - how a dramatic final round unfolded

22 Juli 2018 21:05

The 147th Open Championship delivered one of the most dramatic final rounds in major history on Sunday.

A day that started with a three-way share for the lead had at one point a six-way tie at the summit.

Tiger Woods was back in the hunt, Rory McIlroy threatened, and Jordan Spieth saw the Claret Jug prised from his grasp after being in that leading overnight trio.

At the end of all that, it was Francesco Molinari who claimed glory at Carnoustie - giving Italy its first major winner - and here's how he did it.

STENSON SHOWS THE WAY

Long before the leading groups went out, 2016 champion golfer of the year Henrik Stenson showed that the course and conditions could be tamed.

The Swede, who played one of the finest rounds in Open history when he shot 63 on the Sunday at Royal Troon two years ago, carded a 69 after going out in group nine.

That was his best round of the week, highlighting that scoring opportunities were on offer for those who hit their stride.

 

KISNER SLAMS IT IN REVERSE AS TIGER WARMS UP

Heading out in the penultimate pairing alongside Kevin Chappell, Kevin Kisner had his sights set on a maiden major.

But a double-bogey six at the second following bunker trouble preceded another dropped shot at the third to leave Kisner lagging behind by three.

Woods suffered no such woes, with gains at the fourth and sixth putting the most successful player in the field firmly in the frame.

 

MORE SPIETH DRAMA AS WOODS SCALES THE SUMMIT

The drama really ramped up a notch after Spieth and co-leader Xander Schauffele each bogeyed the fifth, leaving Woods within one.

But then came a not uncharacteristic moment of madness from Spieth, who was wild with his second shot at the sixth, where a frantic search for his ball ensued.

Once found, it was unplayable and the drop he took ultimately led to a double-bogey seven. Woods and Schauffele now shared the lead.

 

WOODS LEADS OUTRIGHT

When Schauffele followed Spieth's poor example and carded a double-bogey six at the next hole, the seventh, Woods had the outright lead.

That news arrived as Woods was playing a stunning bunker shot at the 10th to scramble a par, with Molinari - going quietly about his business with 11 consecutive pars - now his closest challenger alongside Spieth.

Amid all of this, Eddie Pepperell, safely in the clubhouse, had risen to a tie for fourth after his earlier 67.

And McIlroy was lurking on five under, just two back, after birdieing the 11th.

The race was on.

 

DOUBLE-TROUBLE FOR WOODS

A day in which everything seemed to be coming up trumps for Woods took a turn for the worse on the 11th.

Having birdied it in each of his first three rounds, Woods endured a nightmare on this occasion.

His tee shot went into the crowd and, despite a fortunate bounce, his next shot over a bunker went off the back of the green.

A two-putt from eight feet saw Woods slump back to five under and one behind what was now a four-way tie for the lead, with Spieth, Molinari, Kisner and Chappell in that group.

 

MCILROY FLIES LIKE AN EAGLE

McIlroy nailed an outstanding eagle putt from 40 feet at the 14th to create a six-way tie for the lead.

The Northern Irishman's clenched-fist celebration underlined his delight and, no doubt, sense of belief.

While McIlroy was performing minor miracles, Woods dropped another shot at the 12th as his challenge faded.

 

ROSE ON THE MONEY, BUT MCILROY MISSES OUT

Justin Rose needed a lengthy birdie putt at the 18th just to make the cut on Friday, and he profited at the last again two days later.

A superb approach shot left him with a tap-in birdie to join the group on six under, but by then Molinari had himself made a gain at 14.

Soon after Rose had finished, McIlroy made his way down the final hole, but his second shot was 20 feet from the pin and he two-putted to remain six under.

When he turned to see the scoreboard above one of the packed grandstands, Schauffele's name had joined Molinari's at the top.

Meanwhile, Spieth's bogey at 15 left him with a mountain to climb over the closing three holes.

 

THIRTY-SEVEN DOWN, THREE TO GO

After 37 groups had finished their tournaments and returned to the clubhouse, just three were left out on the course.

And all of the six players still competing had a shot at the prize.

With the stretch having been so difficult throughout, the victor would really have to earn their glory.

The Woods-Molinari pairing was first to tackle the 18th, but despite a fine approach, the former could only make par.

Molinari went one better, his second setting up an easy birdie and laying down a marker at eight under for the four players left on course.

Over to you, Chappell, Kisner, Schauffele and Spieth...

 

ONE BY ONE THEY FELL

The pretenders stumbled on the march for home, Chappell's double-bogey six at 17 making him the first to fall.

Kisner, who started the day in a share of the lead, closed with a run of four pars to come up two short.

Schauffele's slice off the 17th tee scuppered his chances, while Spieth - five over for the day - could not summon his first gain of a punishing round.

With major winners, former world number ones and even an Olympic champion trailing in his wake, Molinari - whose scorecard remained blemish-free - was confirmed as the champion golfer of the year for 2018 after Schauffele could not hole his second from the final fairway.

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